Journal #249 – Work was both good and bad, learnt something new

When I went office this morning, I was feeling tired and irritable. That’s even after I started coffee and waited for the caffeine to kick in. So that was definitely not caffeine-deprivation.

So I went through my morning feeling pretty angsty and went about doing my task. I did try my best to control my emotions from going out of control.

In hindsight, I suspect it was actually depression masquerading as irritation as described in this article.

At around lunch time, I decided to go for lunch at Ichiban Sushi for some sashimi. After lunch, I continue about converting the existing implementations to use the new web service and fixing any regressions. However, the server backend keep dying caused by overused threads in the application pool, so it wasn’t really productive.

My colleagues did later find out what was causing the IIS threads to be overused and stuck, preventing the server from responding to further requests. It was due to a problem with the way Linq was used to query the database. We didn’t know about deferred and eager execution, at least in the context of database and entity framework. Eager execution only happens under certain scenarios like when you execute “.ToList()”. While deferred execution seems to be the default operation.

So that is one new thing that I learn about at work today.

The second new thing that I learn about was how SoapUI behave when attempting to download WSDL files that has its XMLNS defined and the system running SoapUI do not have any access to the internet. It turns out SoapUI will throw UnknownHostException. One possible solution was to download the WSDl file.

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Journal #233 – November is coming to an end

In a few days time, November will be over and we will be looking at December. Damn. That’s fast. It also means that I’m approaching three months anniversary at my new workplace.

I don’t know whether to feel excited or sad.

But what I do know is that those three months, I did learn some new stuff like a new programming language and software stack, working in a bigger team (compared to what I had in the past), and maybe I found my pacing. But I don’t know how long can that pacing go. My only concern now is becoming too comfortable.

Come to think about it, it may be a good thing. I decided that this job is my last software development related job. So that means there is really no need for me to push excessively hard until I neglect the things that I really want to do.

Continuing on the topic of work, I suppose I felt like I did good today.

Why?

I spent less than an hour implementing a series of minor enhancements that will improve the user’s search experience. I also went about fixing some bugs found during yesterday’s deployment.

Towards the end of the day, I actually went about changing the alert boxes and confirmation dialogs from the default Windows API version to the ones provided by the custom UI framework, Telerik UI, that we are using.

I went and show my team leader the alert box and he liked it. He also suggested something which I have already considered and that was implementing the alert boxes and dialogs as a form of utility so that everyone can use it.

So I did that and changed the implementation in various sections of the application. Other than that, I also went about using the #region and #endregion to format my codes for ease of reading and maintenance. Without those markings, I couldn’t find the codes that I want to change without relying extensively on the Find function.

With the codes changes, I checked them into the company’s Team Foundation Server, packed up and leave the office.

So far so good I think.

Now let me talk about something else. Since it is Black Friday weekend here and soon for people living on the other side of the planet, I suppose what I want to talk about is relevant. It got to do with minimalism.

Singapore doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving but Black Friday is a thing here. I see the banners and posters everywhere. It has become a day where companies and businesses are trying to encourage people to buy stuff by putting almost everything on sales. Whether they need those stuff or not, I don’t know. For me, it doesn’t do anything. I don’t give a shit about things being on sales or discounts.

Don’t recall ever have. I think my friends can attest to that.

Oh, Please don’t interpret as I don’t buy stuff. I do consume stuff. I’m someone who loves buying gadgets and electronics but it’s that I have never found myself particularly drawn to Black Friday or Great Singapore Sales or any major days that encourage people to buy more stuff. With me being a minimalist now, it’s even more clear cut. I am now very intentional about the gadgets and electronics I buy. That means, it must at least be several times more energy efficient, several more times more powerful, support all my use cases (current and future), convenient to use, and of the highest quality.

So for me, I don’t do heavily discounted items either because they are several years old or no one wants them anymore.

But I also know that such discounts is important. It affects other people’s ability to get an item that they want or need. Not everybody is that well-off or is earning more than they need. For that, I am very grateful I have a decent job which made me much better off financially. I’m also grateful for the fact I was given that opportunity to even have a decent job with a decent education.

One last thing, I think I may have gotten tinnitus caused by a sneeze that I had yesterday. I keep hearing a whining sound in my right ear. If it doesn’t go away by tomorrow, I will see the doctor. I just hope I didn’t destroy my right middle ear.

Journal #219 – Feeling better today

I tried to sleep earlier last night and I woke up feeling slightly better. I went to work following my usual routine and I made a choice to get a venti-sized Americano.

In hindsight, that coffee definitely helped to make me feel better. I suppose it was because of my body’s dependency on it and I was suffering somehow from insufficient amounts. I’m just not sure if that’s a good thing at all.

With me feeling better, I was able to be slightly more productive. So with that, I focus on testing some of the important stuff like NTLM/Kerberos authentication again for computers not joined to the domain. Managed to confirm that NTLM authentication works. Well you see, yesterday we had an issue where our application couldn’t be logged on from a computer not joined to the domain.

I also went about fixing some bugs that I found. And I also encountered an issue where the application couldn’t be started after being compiled. Turns out there was an issue with the asynchronous operations. Certain data were not loaded from the server.

My colleague and I had a discussion about that because some of the asynchronous operation was done by her. We went back and forth until we found a decent solution.

Then our conversation somehow became about multi-tasking. I simply told her that I’m not someone who does multi-tasking anymore because it prevents me from delivering quality work. It also overwhelms me rather easily and I hated that feeling. In a way, it also cause me to suffer from insomnia. I know I could train myself to handle it better but at the end of it, it is still a trade off. Since I value quality more than productivity, I rather be hyper-focus in what I was doing instead of switching context. It’s up to my colleagues to be understanding about that and let me do my work while they do theirs.

Later in the afternoon, my colleagues and I went and discuss about the testing process and the internal testing document that we will use. Our manager actually did called up our team leader and talk about the importance of the testing and the document to prove that we did test. We spent some time to prepare the document template and when it is ready, we packed up and went home.

Well, it’s Friday. No need to stay any longer than we have to. My colleagues’ priorities are their family. Mine is my mental health and my writing.

For me, once I reached home I went for a shower and got down to watch some tv shows like Supernatural, Seal Team and Arrow. Now that I’m done with all the shows for tonight, I suppose I shall do something else.

That’s all for now.

Journal #198 – Oh yeah, task Done

Today is a good day.

I was able to fulfill my goal of finishing the user interface of authentication and authorization module. Now users will be able to manage identities, roles, access to external systems, and what activities they can perform.

I enjoy building authentication and authorization modules. Partially, it’s because it’s related to my core value of security and stability. Authentication and authorization module represents that value since it determines what users can use in a system or how they can access it.

Other than that, I didn’t do much at work.

On the personal front, I decided to go partially vegan when it comes to food today. It’s part of my intention to align my short-term action with my values of being ecologically friendly.

For breakfast, I ate mostly oats, bread, and egg. And yes, I still eat eggs.

My lunch is also vegan, where I had brown rice, stir-fried French beans, Taiwanese fried beancurd, and sweet-sauced Soya nuggets. I also ordered a green tea with chia seed for my drink.

Knowing that I will get hungry after lunch, I ordered a strawberry kiwi salad from the place where I had my lunch.

It looked colorful and tasted pretty good. But I wasn’t ready to enjoy the salad with vinaigrette sauce or the raisins that were there. But I finished it either way.

At home, well, I end up eating salmon fish (yes, I take fish), with stir-fried mixed vegetables.

And I’m feeling hungry now. I shall go look for some fruity snacks to eat.

That’s all for today.

Journal #197 – Irritable Morning But Productive Day

I woke up actually feeling fine and went to work feeling fine. However, after I sat down at my desk and wanted to start working on my task for the day, I began to feel irritated for no reason.

It got progressively worse.

Best part is that I didn’t really know why but I could venture a guess. I was and still am working on a part of the Authentication and Authorization module that require me to figure out how render the tree view with the right kind of information and how to pass click events around. I guess my irritation was caused by a combination of anxiety and the general feeling of impediment.

And why I feel those feelings?

Well, it’s because I had a hard time understanding what’s going wrong with the existing code written by my colleagues to render the tree view. I had copied and paste the code over and modified it to suit my needs. When I code, I like it to be smooth sailing. With a so-called deadline that I promise to fulfill reaching soon, my anxiety kind of kick in.

Yes, I have been trying to ignore deadlines, focus myself on the tasks, and take things slowly. My approach to work is now like that. It’s intentional because I am now asking the question, “why rush?” It’s not a life or death situation. No one is going to die if I fail to meet the deadline. It is also part of my desire to live an un-busy life. However, it takes lots of practice to make it a habit. By default, my mind loves to panic when it senses an external threat to its general well-being.

My irritability finally toned down a lot by around 11am. I had actually forced myself to listen to two buddhist mantras on a loop, simply stop doing any work, force myself to breathe, and blank out my mind.

For lunch, I actually decided to go out for a vegetarian meal and not join my colleagues. These past few weeks, admittedly I actually started to feel home-sick despite living in my own home country. At work, I’m surrounded by mainland Chinese, whom I felt still hadn’t properly integrated with Singapore culture. I felt like an alien in my own home country. So having lunch by myself actually help me feel better.

After that, I went back office feeling better and was able to get something working. I also figured out some stuff about the tree view. By late afternoon, I was already writing my own version of the view models, creating my own version of the post-processing codes to convert raw data into the new view models. I think I can finish it by tomorrow if all go smoothly.

I went home slightly after 6pm, after backing up the whole project into the shared drive. Once home, I focused on watching shows and having dinner.

One last thing. I actually decided to make some changes to my diet. I decided to transit into partial veganism by reducing the amount of red meat I eat. I will still eat eggs, and fish but will definitely cut down on red meat. It turns out that my mood is also highly affected by what I eat. Eating excessive red meat or processed meat tend to make me feel especially nasty and irritable one or two days later.

Transiting into partial veganism is also related to me being a minimalist and have a core value of ecologically friendly. I just find that if I don’t even take any action, it felt hypocritical.

Well, that’s all for my day.

Journal #196 – Chilling on Diwali with some work and movie

Today is Diwali, is a festival celebrated by Hindus, Skikhs, Jains and Newar Buddhists, and also a public holiday in Singapore.

I woke up quite early today, specifically set my alarm clock to go off at 7.30 am, because I was meeting my friend at Jurong Point for a movie called Chasing the Dragon, starring Andy Lau and Donnie Yen. I reached the mall at around 9.35am to have my breakfast of Subway there and then proceed to buy the tickets for the 10.45am show at around 10.10am.

Then I just waited for my friend to arrive. We waited for the next half an hour before entering the theater hall. Once in there, we spent the next 2 hours in it.

After that, we went to the Legendary Hong Kong restaurant in the mall to have our lunch.

My friend ordered the egg tarts and custard buns. He ate all the buns and two of the egg tarts while I took the last piece.

I also ordered the steamed shrimp dumplings. Today’s dumplings were poorly prepared as the skin of the dumpling was like sticking to the surfaces.

For my main meal, I ordered egg fried rice with diced luncheon meat. For those unfamiliar, it’s also known as Spam meat.

After that, I paid for the meal first before my friend paid me his share of the meal and for the movie. Then we went our separate way.

I chose to walk home from the mall, and enjoy the blazing afternoon sun. I deliberately chose to walk slowly home, listening to Doom (2016) soundtrack by Mick Gordon on Spotify.

On the way home, I stopped by Watsons near my apartment block, and bought some toiletries and fish oil supplements. While I was in the store, the salesperson/cashier kept asking me to sign up for their membership, buy some of the items on sales, etc. I rolled my eyes in my mind and kept saying, “No thank you.”

Come on, I’m a minimalist, I only buy what I need to buy and that’s it.

After that, I went home, settled down, switched on my MacBook, rented Transformers: The Last Knight on iTunes and spent the next two hours plus watching it.

I won’t say the movie is that particularly good or bad. It’s just a movie that I don’t think spending $10 to watch it in the cinemas is a good option. I rented the movie for half the price at $5.

After that, I did some light programming work for my client, fixing several, really tiny bugs. Sent an email to my client to clarify some stuff and that was it.

Throughout the night, I just went about doing minor stuff. I went to collect my washed clothes and put them in my wardrobe, prepared my science news round up, browse the web, updated my iPad Pro to iOS 11.0.3, had dinner, and writing this journal.

I also had to deal with the ding made by my neighbor kids downstairs with all the popping stuff. Well, they are Hindu and today is Diwali. All expected but doesn’t mean I like the noise.

I think I probably will just spend the rest of the day consuming more content because today it’s simply a lazy day.

And I’m content.

Journal #189 – Rush To Meet Deadline, Violating Core Values in Process

I’m pretty sure everyone in their professional life has been called upon or required to rush, grind, and push oneself to meet deadlines set by either the customer, client or even internal management team. Personally, I’m just not sure if it is even necessary. What I do know is it leads one to suffer from health problems when done wrongly. I have always done it wrongly and never once have I done it correctly. I will explain more later.

So what’s the end result when I rush? I neglect the balance that my body and mind need everyday. I had to pump my body full of caffeine just so that I can power it through.

That’s what I did today. I took four shots of expressos in the form of Americano. Then followed by two bags of Earl Grey Tea soaked in 400ml of hot water, refilled twice. My body actually felt so jittery after that, and everything looks suddenly so bright.

This is what I call violation of my health value just so that I can meet the unreasonable deadline set by my management. Hmmm… in hindsight, the deadline was actually set by the client. But the management team decided to make the call of waiting for me to join the company a month after I served my notice instead of getting someone else earlier, thereby reducing the amount of time I have to develop.

Now, before you ask why I did what I did, I will tell you. I actually took into account my mental energy levels (which is quite low even after all these years of working) before pumping myself so full of caffeine. It is in part because of my extreme unwillingness to give someone something that I don’t feel satisfied with.

With that much caffeine, now I don’t even know if I can sleep tonight. I suspect I will suffer from a massive sleep debt again. Right now, I do have a headache. My short term action definitely don’t align with my values.

So I’m not happy.

Other than the bad, what else? Well, nothing that is truly meaningful or valuable to me, except maybe a simple thanks. Maybe after this whole ordeal, I can look back and see some upside but definitely not at this moment. What I do know is that the company will get better standing with the customer. My manager gets a fatter bonus. My bosses will be happy.

There is one other thing.

There was an internal demo which included a quick meeting. It turns out we don’t have two more weeks of buffer anymore. We are expected to deliver a fully functioning application with bells and whistles by October 19, latest October 25. That is including the documents for the QA and testers. From where I’m standing, I see that our application is only 70% done. I estimate the authorization and authentication module definitely is only 45% done. Looks like I only have 4 days to finish it all and proceed to do internal integration testing.

I know most people will just say focus on delivering the core requirements… but I can’t. I am not satisfy just delivering the core because it violate my other core value of quality (more like perfection from my view).

Hmm…

I guess I’m gonna make a choice, deciding which violation of my core values that I’m willing to live with. And I think it’s a simple choice. I will ignore quality and focus on my health. Health is something that I cannot rebuild back. Most people have this thinking that you could nourish your health back but they fail to take into account you age with each passing day. Your body’s repair mechanism ages too. You can never get back your original health or vitality.

One last thing.

I’m gonna try and wind down my caffeine intake starting tomorrow so that I can sleep better at night. Not gonna sacrifice my own health so much just to deliver something for someone who don’t have the power or ability to repair my damaged body. Only I can by making the right choices.

I know some professionals may not agree or may find that I’m irresponsible by not focusing on quality. My response would be, you do you, I do me. If you have the drive, health is not one of your core value, and likes your standing amongst your colleagues or friends to be high up on the pedestal, go ahead and do what you want to achieve. For me, all I know is that I will be irresponsible to myself and my family if my physical and mental health takes such a massive toll and require my family to take care of me. If you have read through my journals, you would have known that I went through a period of depression, went on a career break, and re-evaluated what I want in life.

I have definitely slipped in terms of the alignment of my actions, goals, and values.

Journal #182 – Mooncake Festival

Today is Mooncake Festival or more formally known as Mid-Autumn Festival. It is a festival celebrated by ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese people.

When I was younger, I would go downstairs and play with the neighbors, carry lanterns. As I got older, I got more introverted and decided to spend more time in front of a screen instead.

And now for me, today is just like any other day.

At work, I focused on integrating the identity access module with the client application and the rest of the server codes.

During the integration, it turns out that some of my interfaces didn’t meet certain requirements. So I had to overload some of the functions to take in some other kind of parameters for the same purpose.

For some reason, I actually felt kind of upset after the discussion with my colleague about what I have implemented. Why did I get upset? Cause I’m upset at myself for not being better.

But it’s ok.

The lesson to be learn here is that, one should also find out more before doing anything more.

Also, after a round of basic integration testing, my colleague disagreed with my use of exception to control flow of execution and preferred the use of booleans and integers.

But it’s ok. There is no right way or wrong way of doing things. It’s just different approach. It’s all about comprehension at the end of the day. I will proceed to make the changes tomorrow.

After work, I went to buy a box of Essence of Chicken with Cordyceps for $18.05 from Watsons.

I take Essence of Chicken from time to time to improve my cognitive ability and improve recovery from mental fatigue. A study and another have shown that Essence of Chicken works. Personally, I found that it helps me in both aspects.

As part of the Mid-Autumn Festival, it won’t be complete without the mooncake itself.

So here it is, one of the red-bean paste mooncake that my family have. I have already eaten a slice and found it to be decent. Not that sweet or tasteless. But as with any food, one cannot be eating too many.

That’s all for now.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #181 – Light At the End of The Tunnel

As I’m preparing to write this journal, I’m in the process of dozing off. In a way, it has been a long day for me but I won’t say it has been extremely productive. I did get some work done but that’s it.

First thing in the morning was me adding more functionalities to the identity access module. Closer to lunch time, I went and filled up the security clearance form that the client needed us to submit. The night before, I actually went to pull out an older copy from my own personal data vault at home, convert it into a password protected PDF, and uploaded it to iCloud. I’m trusting Apple’s iCloud is actually secure and private enough for me to store such sensitive piece of document there. The purpose of that older copy was for reference purpose because I don’t remember every single details of my life to fill such documents.

After I’m done with the document, I went and deleted the version in my iCloud and ensure that it was deleted from all my iCloud-connected devices. Deep down, I hope it’s not cached somewhere.

After that, my colleagues and I went for lunch. Today, our team leader and some other staff in our development office were not around for some reason. And so there were only four of us heading to lunch together.

After lunch, we came back, chit-chat for a moment before getting back to work. I began the process of integrating the client application with the identity access module through web service. I managed to get the login and logout function working, and added some logging codes to some of the application services. It’s not complete yet, as in not all the application services or even web services parts have the logging codes, but at least it was something. This is why I gave my journal the title it is having now. It was a light at the end of the tunnel for me. Every successful integration, even if it’s just one endpoint, is good news.

Other than that, I also went ahead to add some comments to the task (assigned to me) in JIRA so that my management have some kind of visibility.

After that I spent the last half an hour just surfing the web, Twitter, and Facebook and then just call it a day.

On the train home, I read the first few pages of chapter 3 of the book, Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products, which I bought last Thursday as mentioned in the journal entry. I haven’t been spending a lot of time reading it, thus my slow progress. Normally, for a book as thin as this, I would have finished within one day. But it’s because I lack the discipline and lack distractions (Netflix) pull me away, and in part, I wanted to keep something around to read while going to work.

So far, I love the book. Mr. Leander Kahney did a good job writing the book and told the story in a rather engaging way. I suppose non-fiction can be entertaining too. And the book has made me respect Mr. Jony Ive even more.

And I did learn Design and Technology before during my secondary school days, so I can appreciate everything done by him when it comes to Apple’s product.

That’s all.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #176 – Going Through Drudgery Daily, Then A Decent Ending For Today

Why do I have writer’s block? Why do I not know what I want to write about today?

I want to say I’m tired. But that sounds like a fucking excuse.

But at the root of it, it’s really simple.

I didn’t put myself out there enough, exposing myself to brand new ideas, talking with people, sharing.

Everyday is the same fucking shit.

Wake up. Have food. Shower. Travel to work. Write code. Test code. Fix Code. Write more code. Have food. Do more code…

Sounds extremely boring isn’t it? In part yes. In part, no. The no part refers to my tendency to refactor my code even though they are not done or functioning yet. I moved my codes around, create more classes, break apart certain functions, etc. All part of the development process. The yes part refers to the process of writing code itself.

Just like the process of writing my journals. It’s a form of drudgery as it’s boring as hell. There could be a million (ok, not a million, maybe a dozen) of things that I could be doing. And sometimes, I’m tired. But I still write because that’s how I will improve.

My friend did tell me there is no need to write everyday. Generally, I will just say fuck off. But not today because I choose to ignore him.

You see, by forcing yourself to write everyday, you are training yourself. It is intentional training. Just like how some people go for music lesson in a consistent manner. That’s how they become good.

So in my case, because of me consistently writing everyday and putting out content, even now when I’m super exhausted, super sleepy, I’m still able write so much. See, I’m good at telling my own life story.

I’m just that good at it.

Now let’s repeat after me.

Ha! I’m joking. But I hope you get what I’m trying to say. Keep practicing and you will become good at what you do.

And today, I didn’t go home right away after work. My friend actually asked me out for dinner and so I did.

Met him at Orchard to eat at The Sushi Bar and each person pays S$38.60.

A cup of green tea for $2.

A bowl of steam egg (chawanmushi) for $4.

A regular sized Kaisen Chirashi Don for $26.90.

After dinner, my friend and I made our way to the Kinokuniya Bookstore at Takashimaya. At first I didn’t know what I want to buy, then I thought about buying Tim Ferriss’s 4 hour workweek. But I wasn’t sure I could find it. Then I thought about buying Steve Jobs’ biography until I came across a book about Jony Ive.

So I went to buy the book call Jony Ive: The Genuis Behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahn.

Why did I buy it? My initial thought was maybe I could try and understand what’s going on behind the decisions that gave us the products that we so loved from Apple. I thought maybe it could expand my knowledge. And a part of me, I don’t know. It’s my first biography that I have ever bought.

Maybe after reading it, I could give a decent review. I shall see how that goes.

Here I conclude my journal for today.